The Divorce Papers

Ramone, our favorite bartender from The Derby, stayed admirably neutral during the whole affair.  But Elvin & Becky, well they were civil, at least. Especially Elvin. For a divorce, it went reasonably well, but then we weren’t married.

When we first met, Elvin and I were waiting for our wives outside a movie theatre. We sat, literally, right next to each other for about half an hour.  My wife, Cynthia, and Elvin’s wife, Becky, found us that way and introduced us to each other.  We had not exchanged a single word.

That’s one reason why it’s still hard for me to think of Elvin and Becky as two people.  It was as if he was radio controlled by her presence, as if he was just an observer, as if he wasn’t even real.  Everything about them seemed to be characterized by Becky and her way of dealing with people.  He watched as she picked his friends, drove away family, quit her job to go back to school and filled their house with Disney toys.  It would be, “Yes dear,” as she would nix his job transfer to another state, decide where they should or shouldn’t live and what they should spend their money on.  And, it seemed, he watched silently as she delivered us our divorce papers.

He went with the flow, and I did like that about him, I just wondered whether he wasn’t a hypnotically suggested figment of Becky’s imagination.

We knew them for four years, and in that time were their best and only friends.  We had other friends, but we had to hide them from Becky or she would say something like, “You went bowling?  Don’t you know we like to bowl?”

At a party we threw once, she seemed to resent our other guests, working her way into every conversation we had, and comparing our behavior towards them and towards her.  She started to help with the dishes, then stopped to say, “You didn’t tell me I didn’t have to help clean the dishes,” as we had told someone else.  It was a matter of rank with her.  Was she first on our speed dial?  We didn’t want her to know.

Once, she gave us this porcelain Mickey Mouse.  It had a winding stem and played some Disney song.  She knew I liked Star Trek so she got me these collectible Star Trek Borg dolls.  They’re in a box in the basement somewhere now, memorializing the final chapter of our friendship.  They gave expensive gifts, as if they could buy our love, but often it would be what they would have wanted themselves.  We reciprocated, of course, until it almost seemed like we were buying ourselves expensive gifts that we didn’t want.  The final straw?  I didn’t call or send a note to thank them for the Borg dolls.  We didn’t know it then, but she was on the lookout for just such a sign.

Never mind that (typical guy that I sometimes am) I never called or sent thank you notes.

I never sent them to my Aunt Marion, for example, even though she had sent me gifts from California consistently and reliably for every year of my life, and still does (that was 30 years) and I do appreciate it, rally I do, she just doesn’t know.  I feel bad about it too, but, as Cynthia tells me “not bad enough to actually do something about it?”

Becky was different; I know that now.  She should have been first on the speed dial.  It would have been easier to call. But she got her sign. Then came what we call the Divorce Papers.

“I have spent time reflecting on whether or not to send this. It was a very painful letter to write and represents the end of something I never thought would end, but I guess it had ended even before the letter was written.

During that time, I have not heard from either of you even though we sent birthday cards and presents for Mark’s birthday. That lets me know that it is definitely over.

I have chosen a different lifestyle, one that doesn’t include promotions and babies, that is not to say that I do not have my own joys and triumphs, they now come exclusively from school, and I realize that you can not relate to those successes either. It is almost like we try and relate the two worlds, but if just doesn’t seem possible anymore.

Our last conversation was strained. We never made any plans to get together, no shopping after Thanksgiving, no weekend visits, nothing even left in the air….”

This was quite foreign to me, y’know, because I might not talk to my best friend for 3 months, and then when I do, its like we just talked the day before.  We would have been perfectly content to remain friends with them, seeing them less, yes, but we have lots of friends like that.  But Becky needed more.  I wanted to respond, to explain about being a guy, about guy things like not sending thank you notes, (Since, we suspect, she may not have had one, except in her imagination).  But Cynthia reminded me about some stuff.

Like when we told Becky we were pregnant, and she said, “oh.”  How, after all could she compete with that?

Less painful then most, divorces of this kind do not involve any apportioning of assets, or custody issues. Our child to be was ours. Elvin was Becky’s. Ramone? He never mentions them to us. I don’t think he really knows who any of us are to tell you the truth.

“It was probably destined to happen sooner or later…that is why I am writing this… before our friendship lingers to a slow death.”

I felt bad at first, but the fact that she never seemed to care about seeing our beautiful baby girl, or even our new Volvo for that matter, put those feelings pretty quickly to rest.

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